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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 04-11-11, 03:08 PM   #1
Standalone 
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My 700C Hybrid Xtracycle Build (in progress)

EDIT: VIDEO---- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFMdfdojvMA

It's a tight fit with 700cx35's. My son grew heavy enough that I no longer felt safe with all his weight over the back tire in the topeak seat. 33 miles r/t on my Madsen was too much for a commute, so I decided to make a longtail for daycare pickup days.

Before


During


Adding 5lbs...


Test Fit, Beer #1 consumed. I even removed the crank/rings and cleaned the heck out of them!


Oh Snap!

The bolt that holds the tongue snapped when I tried to back the nut off to re-fit. The tongue doesn't go past the chainstay bridge on this 700C bike, so the install is a little bit kludge-y. The bolt that's in there now is good and strong, and I think I found a good setup.

So far:


The V-Brake is a tight fit under the Topeak rack. The idea is to use it this spring and summer before throwing on the v-racks it came with and having a more traditional longtail seat. No reason to buy a peapod when my youngest is just about to outgrow it anyway. I think I can get the brake to work, but it will have to always be pretty tightly adjusted unless I can find some thin brake pads or a better washer combination for fit.

Still need to do the brake and shifter cable and throw the chain on. Wish me luck!
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Old 04-11-11, 03:32 PM   #2
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I'm digging it! Not too many 700C Xtracycles around.
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Old 04-12-11, 04:41 AM   #3
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How does it ride? Is it stable?
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Old 04-12-11, 03:02 PM   #4
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I've taken it chainless up and down my street, which has a very gentle slope at points. It's completely stable.

The fork compresses a little more than it otherwise would, I think. We'll see whether that is going to be an issue on rough roads. I'd be more than happy to get rid of it, but it's only a 40 or 60 mm travel fork, so I don't know whether there will be a proper fork to replace it.

The Shop Xtra at my bike shop (they're a pretty cool store) is a 700C Civia with fenders and everything.

I still have the rear fender for the Fuji, but want the thicker tire on it still. There is literally about 2mm of clearance with this 35mm tire.
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Old 04-12-11, 03:22 PM   #5
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I use a 700c extracycle to cart tools, beer and scrap copper around. the only drawback seems to be the limited tyre clearance on the free radical. i have gone over to a disc brake out back due to living on a big hill. i have a v brake set up on the canti mounts, activated by an old thumb lever to act as a parking brake whilst loading/unloading.
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Old 04-13-11, 03:39 PM   #6
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How does it ride? Is it stable?
OK, I Just took the 4 year old up and down the street on it. It's a hundred percent more stable with the baby seat than it was as a short wheelbase bike.

The front suspension feels a little mushier in terms of road feel than it used to, but handling is still great. I
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Old 04-14-11, 04:44 AM   #7
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I haven't really seen many Xtracycles (or Utility Bikes, for that matter) with suspension. This is probably because of the utilitarian nature of Utility riders. They don't want suspension, and they don't need it. Do you think you'll switch to a ridged fork, or keep the suspension? You said it was mushy, what do you mean by that?
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Old 04-14-11, 05:32 AM   #8
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One of the things about suspension and the xtracycle, you're changing the balance of the bike, moving your weight more forward. So you're going to have something like a 50/50 split on the wheels rather than about 30/70. The extra load on the front is probably what's causing the mushiness in the suspension fork.

There is more flex with an xtracycle frame so you may be able to get as much cushion as you want with a rigid fork and plush tires. Most xtracyclers I've seen go this route, adding something like a thudbuster if more suspension is needed. You might try something like the Jack Brown's from Riv since you don't have clearance for something wider. I like Vittoria Randonneurs too, pretty durable fast and comfortable.
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Old 04-14-11, 10:02 AM   #9
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Thanks lucien. I'm not a big fan of suspension, period. None of my other bikes are so equipped. It'd be nice if the fork were adjustable, but it's a cery cheap one.

Oil LOL, the fork is "mushy" in that I can feel it compress more when I mount the bike, giving the front end a softer feel, whereas before it felt firm all the time. Handling is quick and safe feeling, though. When I can afford a fork, I'll replace this one. It also has a steel handlebar off an old MTB, which I'd also be happy to switch out for an alloy flat bar.

I got up in time to take it out to work on this beautiful day. (33 miles r/t -- New Haven to Bridgeport)

The test ride last night was fine, but this morning when I put it up to 19-20 mph (which was awesome-- SO much faster than my 11mph average on the Madsen!!!), anyway when I ran it up to long distance commuting speed, it started skipping every so often. I put older chains on the thing to test it out, and sure enough, they were too stretched to function properly. So I've got to drop some cash on new chain before taking it on a serious commute.

The back wheel probably needs a truing, since I can't get the brakes close enough to work well. The 26" / 700C adaptor kind of sets up the brake so that the shoe must be all the way "down," which reduces the stopping power somewhat.

I guess there are kinks to work out... I knew there would be. This is why a lot of people recommend a BD frame build from the start. There are surely hidden costs in getting a conversion to work. I do think that I can get it all going nicely for fairly cheap, though. I'm only in $299 so far.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:21 AM   #10
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In looking at your build, you may have issues if you want to replace the fork. You've got a threaded suspension fork. They don't make suspension-corrected, threaded forks that I've found. Surprising since suspension forks are pretty common on hybrids. I looked for months in an effort to fix my wife's bike. We're just going to get her a new bike.

Your options are:

Switch to a threadless fork and change the fork, headset and stem. This will probably run about $150.
Use a threaded fork and lower your front end, this may or may not work. Probably about $50 but it will change the geometry, possibly significantly.
Find a rigid mtb fork from the 80's or early 90's. Not terribly likely without a bike attached to the fork.
Find a new donor bike for the xtracycle. Probably the easiest option from c list or a garage sale, bike kitchen etc. As long as you're not an odd size it should be easy. If you have a good parts bin all you need to look at is a frame in good shape.
Or live with it.
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Old 04-15-11, 10:27 AM   #11
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I hadn't thought about the threaded fork being an issue with a change of geomtery, or with sourcing a susp-corrected fork.



The headset is currently worn and indexing (right in the center-- sure makes the bike easy to work on!), so replacing everything and going threadless as you suggest would make some financial sense as it's time to re-do the headset anyway. I am an odd size (6'4" with super long shins), so CL MTB's are hard to come by.



But I just put 16 miles on the bike and it ran just great. No issues with the fork, at least unloaded. We'll see. I can always focus more on finding another frame and moving the xtra over to it. I think the fork can wait. My ride time to work was 1:03. My fastest bike, pushed as hard as I can go (well, at the very beginning of the season) only made 55 mins. My old Panasonic takes about 57-58 minutes. So I consider that 1h03m pretty good time for a utility longtail!



Last night I removed the trial-fit chain that was skipping and pulled the megarange freewheel off. I replaced it with a regular 14-28. I had never used the granny on the bike in 6 years, even hauling barrel composters and steel fenceposts in a trailer uphill, so I figured I could get by w/o the large cog.



The granny gear is so small, however, that chain slap is an issue. Also, I think my chain is likely a link or two too long, but I'm out of reinforced pins to change the length any more.



All in all, I'm really happy with the setup. All told, I'm only about $360 in, including new chains, freewheel, and cheap target cyclocomputer, v-racks and that "hoodie" bag for when I pull the Topeak Baby Seat off and set it up more for cargo. The bike itself was $320 six years ago.



That's a pretty cheap and versatile cargo solution. I'm surprised more people don't set up an Xtracycle with a regular rack and baby seat. It's really very stable and light for what it is.

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Old 04-15-11, 11:06 AM   #12
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I'm really digging your setup. I like the stripped-down look with the standard rack and kid's seat.

Quote:
I am an odd size (6'4" with super long shins), so CL MTB's are hard to come by.
I'm 6'2" with a long torso and gorilla arms so I feel your pain. I ended up getting a BD complete this year because I couldn't find a suitable donor bike. Of course mine apparently will never be done.

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Old 04-16-11, 09:08 AM   #13
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I'm really digging your setup. I like the stripped-down look with the standard rack and kid's seat.
Right on. With the seat off, the rack sort of fills in that open area above the xtra-- reminds me of the proportions of the seat on a harley.

There's a huge difference in the handling of the bike with a passenger compared to when that seat was right over the rear wheel. Much, much more stable.

So in total I put 33 miles on it yesterday-- made a 15 mph average over 16.2 miles into work, then had my son on it for the last 7 miles of the return trip.

Right before I picked him up, the chain started skipping a bit-- good old new cable stretch made worse by the extra length. I wound up riding with my hand on the twist shifter so I could put a little extra tension on it to keep the chain from jumping around. Guess I'll tweak it this evening.

It was the end of a long week, and my wife who lovingly makes my lunch in the AM left out my clif bar---so I COMPLETELY bonked about 2000' from my house. A cold April headwind off the beach for the last 2 miles took the last of the gas out of the tank! We got out, I ate my 4-year-old's leftover smooshed PB&J (never bonked that hard, ever.) and walked the last hill.
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Old 05-26-11, 08:08 PM   #14
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Update: I upgraded the fork to rigid. The mush is gone and the handling is just slightly tighter, but nowhere near twitchy. I'm sure there's a subtle difference in the rake of the fork and the trail, but I think I like it better. My hands were a bit sore after 33 miles on it, so there is a little more harshness, but I only noticed this in this way. The bike didn't really feel harsh at all.



The bike made the 16.25 mile commute in to work in record time for me-- 60 minutes flat, including any stoplight time. Compare this to a ride in on my fancy race-spec'd jamis with brifters and carbon everything... 55 minutes not including stoplight time! So I pretty much tied my race bike with front panniers and a free radical on the back!

The bike looked better with the fat silver suspension fork, but it's now so much more practical. And what a weight loss-- even with the panniers loaded, I can pull the wheel up and over obstacles, not to mention going up hills and maneuvering the bike by hand in the garage so much more easily.
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